Sunday, August 31, 2008

It's A Pike!

Having a super Labor Day Weekend up in New Hampshire at some friends' house. We have been fishing on the lake...can't tell you the name lest I be disowned by said friends. Caught lots of rock bass, yellow perch, sunnies and even a nice-looking pike. Hooked that bad boy on a size 8, yellow Clouser Minnow. At first I thought I was racked up on the bottom, but then the bottom started to swim strongly. My guess was that it was a fish and not a rock. Very clever deduction, I know. This fish put up a more diligent struggle and seemed to want to stay nearer the bottom as opposed to the rock bass, which seem to give up rather quickly. In any event, I brought the fish in and discovered a 15-inch northern pike at the end of my line. A very nice specimen. Pictures you ask? Of course the camera was up at the house.

Canadian National Fly Fishing Championships

Next week I am off to Mont Tremblant, Quebec to fish in the Canadian National Fly Fishing Championships. The fishing will be for rainbow, brown and brook trout. The venues include 2 river sessions on the Diable River and 3 lake sessions of loch-style fishing in Club Baroux. Their website is at

Saturday, August 30, 2008

United Fly Tyers

United Fly Tyers will have our first meeting of the season on Thursday, September 4 in Woburn, MA at the Holiday Inn Select at 6:30 pm.

Holiday Inn Select
15 Middlesex Canal Park Rd.,
Woburn, MA 01801,
tel: 781-935-8760,
Take Exit 35 off 128, Continue on Circle to Main St/Rt 38S towards Woburn Center. Approximately 0.1 turn right on Middlesex Canal Park, Holiday Inn Select is the first business
on the right, less than 1/4 mile off the highway, easy on easy off.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Porcupine Hair and Leslie's Quill Gordon

Thanks to Bob Bates who has just published the August '08 "Fly of The Month" on the Federation of Fly Fishers web page. This month's fly is Leslie's Quill Gordon. This is a Quill Gordon that I tye using porcupine hair instead of herl or feather stem. Check it out (and see why my vote is for porcupine this election season) at Wow that is a mouth full of mumbo jumbo. I even got the link correctly written. Whew! Check out that porcupine.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What Makes A Fly Appealing to A Fish?

This article appeared in Backcasts, the bimonthly newsletter of the Northeast Council of the Federation of Fly Fishers (

What makes a fly appealing to a fish? What features of a fly trigger the predatory instinct in a fish? What makes a fish decide to eat something that comes across its field of vision? For purposes of this article I will mainly focus on the sense of sight. There has been a great deal written about this, but let's take a look at this issue again.

Fish are first, and foremost, predators. They live stacked up in the hierarchical predatory dance system that is the natural world. The average fish spends most of its time either looking for prey or trying not to be detected and become prey. So, what does the piscatorial predator look for when shopping for a meal?

First, a fly should look like a prey item. After all, we eat things that look appealingly like food to us. A fish is not going to behave any differently. As a consumer, the fish wants to eat something that is familiar to its senses. Fish usually eat insects in some stage of aquatic development or other, often smaller, fish. I tip my hat to other food items, but for purposes of this discussion I will not focus specifically on these other dietary supplements such as small mammals, birds, fruit, etc., but some of what I say holds true for these items as well.

A fly should have the approximate shape, size and color of the prey. In the underwater world of shifting water currents and lighting, silhouette is part of this equation. The use of different furs, feathers and synthetics impart different outlines on the flies. Texture also comes into play here. Using materials wisely is important.

Second, a fly should behave like a prey item. This is deeply connected to the motion which we impart upon the fly. The fly should flow and wiggle in the water in ways that mimic the prey. Again, using materials wisely is important. There is not space here to go into depth about this, but in a future issue of Backcasts I will explore this in more detail.

Third, fish key in on eyes. When any animal encounters another, it is the eyes that meet for the final reality check. It should be noted that, relative to the size of a fish's body, the eyes are very large. This makes the issue of the eyes on our flies very important. Eyes are organs that interact with light. Given this, the eyes we attach to our bait fish imitation flies should also interact with light. To this end, it is good to use eyes made of a reflective or holographic material. I prefer the three-dimensional eyes that are domed in shape. Or I may add a dab of epoxy or Tuffleye over the flat-style eyes.

So, in my humble opinion, if it looks like food, acts like food and looks back at the fish like food, it must be food.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Correct Link to Hans Weilennman's Page & Fishing With The Most Basic Equipment

Sorry about the incorrect link to Hans Weilennman's website it has been corrected for those who are interested. Check it out at to find out about the Snikwah.

Have been catching a good number of decent-sized yellow perch, some 3-4 inch baby smallies and rock bass at the dock lately. Even landed a good size lake trout. Still working the local dock with my trusty hand line and a simple fly. All the bait chuckers seem to think I should get a reel, pole and some proper equipment. What do they know. They have massive, I mean massive amounts of tackle, coolers, rods, reels, nets, lawn chairs, umbrellas, etc. It looks like a big box outdoors store exploded all over the dock. You fly folks know what I mean. I have a small waist pack with some flies, a spool of mono/heavy tippet, nippers, hemostat and a couple of split shot. What more could I need to catch fish? Besides I end up with time to catch some fish as I do not have to fumble with so much gear. Nor do I need a Sherpa to carry it all.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


What is a Snikwah you asked? Check it out on Hans Weilennman's website at Look up flies under yours truly and see the pattern and recipe for yourself. Hans has a vast collection of flies and fly tyer information. A stop at his site is a must.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Smallmouth Bass On A Dry Fly

I took a break from tying flies last evening and went out to Lake Huron to throw a few dries around. I go out frequently in the evening to work on my casting stroke. The Lake is 30 feet from my front deck. It's a rough way to spend July and August, but hey, why not? Typically there is not much there to catch as it is wide open and fairly shallow, with no cover and a lot of predatory birds. If I were a fish, I certainly would not hang out in such a danger zone. I was pleased to entice this scrappy little Smallmouth Bass with a an orange foam hopper. Actually it was one of my patterns, the Snikwah. The fish was a hair over 8 inches and beautifully green and marked. Not a bad evening of practice.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Porcupine Hair

Greetings to one and all. This is my friend, Ron, and I sorting porcupine hair, quills and underfur. Ron has a bin of porcupine from about 4 animals, and he lets me take the hairs as he does not use them. Ron is a fantastic craftsman. He is well-known for his authentic brich bark canoes, porcupine quill boxes, baskets, knives and many other Native American arts. He and his wife, Molly, hail from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and Ron is a member of the the Ojibwe band of Chippewa Indians. Ron uses the stiff quills for his art while I use the fine hair for making flies. Porcupine hair is shinny, flexible and strong and makes very nice quill bodies. It works much better than feather stems and peacock herl to create realistic segmented bodies on flies such as the Quill Gordon. It does not need soaking before use or reinforcement with wire or head cement. This year I have quite a good supply. I am selling some, so be in touch if you would like to order.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I was just looking at some old pictures of flies on my computer, and thought I would share a few with my readers. From top to bottom, the flies are: Fuzzy Wuzzy, Coq de Leon Fly and the Tungsten Hairball. The Fuzzy is an Atlantic Salmon pattern. The Coq de Leon and the Hairball are good trout catchers.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Check Out Those Eyes

Summer brings out the best in all of us. Well, maybe the best in the bug world. Check out those eyes. The legs aren't so bad either. The mayflies continue to spring out of the water here in Michigan.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Little Bass

Summer fishing continues. Yesterday I caught a slew of little bass and perch on a hand line with a fly on the end. I fished off a dock near the house, using a hare's ear nymph. I barely put the fly in the water and somebody grabbed it and tried to dash off. This fish looked surprised and bewildered as to what it inhaled.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Federation of Fly Fishers Fly Tying Group

The Federation of Fly Fishers ( has recently set up the Fly Tying Group. Information on the group is available at Membership information is available at At the Federation's Annual Conclave in Whitefish, MT, we recently had our first meeting with the newly-elected Board of Governors.
Generally speaking, the FTG's mission is to bring leadership to and improve the quality of demonstration tying at the Conclave, international, national and club levels. There is the "Tying as Teacher Initiative," which focuses on providing resources and education on how to be an effective demonstrator and teacher of the art and science of fly tying. Also, the FTG will be looking at framing and fly plate production and archiving. As the TFG is an evolving group still in its youth,, more will be unfolding and taking shape as time moves forward. Look for future information.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Fish & Fly Magazine

I have just learned that the magazine Fish & Fly has suspended publication. News catches up to me slowly when I am on vacation. Check out this link: